My skin struggle and my path to naturopathic medicine

Dr Andrea M. Colon

Written by Dr. Andrea Colon

I started having issues with acne in my early teenage years. It wasn’t just the acne that was the issue, but the fact that it would never go away. Which, as you can imagine, is every teenager’s nightmare while trying to get through school. It really did have a negative effect on my self esteem as people constantly made comments about my acne. After high school, I enrolled in a program to become a licensed Esthetician, also known as skin care specialist. My hope was to finally get my acne under control. I did see some improvements in my skin after using products that were free from harmful, irritating chemicals including parabens. However, I still struggled with bad skin well into early adulthood. In fact, it had even worsened and had become cystic. Anyone who has ever had cystic acne knows that it’s not only embarrassing, but also can be quite painful. It had become so out of control that I ended up seeing a Dermatologist who put me on Accutane, a strong medicine which addresses acne, but can also cause some serious side effects, including liver damage. I remember my skin began to peel and it just felt raw, at times, while on Accutane. I dealt with this for several months while also having to avoid the sun, which can be difficult in the summer months. I was happy to see that the medication had cleared up my acne, but this was only temporary. I was completely heartbroken when my acne returned about a year after being off Accutane.
At the time I was working at a spa (which is another reason why it was stressful to have issues with my own skin), a co-worker of mine suggested I seek out the help of a Naturopathic Doctor. I wasn’t familiar very familiar with the philosophy of a ND at the time but I figured I had tried everything else, so why not? Little did I know that the appointment I made would be life changing. During our appointment the doctor asked me things no other doctor had asked me. She wanted details about my diet, recurring issues with sore throats and ear infections and more information about the fatigue I had been dealing with. She suggested I do a food allergy panel along with some other labs. It turned out I had an allergy to both wheat and casein, the protein found in milk as well as some nutrient deficiencies including vitamin A, which is one nutrient responsible for cellular turnover. I quickly eliminated my food allergens, cleaned up my diet and added in the recommended supplementation. After several months, my skin improved drastically. I had a dewy glow to my skin that I had never experienced before. Oddly enough, eliminating dairy from my diet also stopped me from having recurring strep throat and ear infections (but that is another story). With the exception of a few hormone related incidents here and there, I can proudly say I have been acne free ever since. I was so inspired after my experience that I decided to become a Naturopathic Physician to learn how to help others with the same struggles.

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